Boats – Now in Video Form!

Gonna start making some of my poems into videos too from here on out, for that sweet, theoretical YouTube cred! Inaugurating this trend is my latest piece, “Boats,” which I’ve decided to unofficially subtitle “A Weirdly Motivational Poem.” Enjoy!

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New Poem: “Boats”

IMG_3249

It’ll make sense in a second, I promise.

It occurred to me at one point that people seem to use old-fashioned boats and ships as life metaphors a lot when trying to be hyper-motivational or melodramatic. Whereas I once might’ve been onboard (heh) with that thinking, both extremes of self-expression have become tiresome as I’ve matured into my own personal sense of measured world perspective.

The first line sprung into my head, and because of how both aggressive and goofy it sounded, I decided to flesh out the rest with a similarly blended tone of earnestness and absurdity. It was a hard line to walk without sounding like the very thing I was trying to riff on, so I hope you can still take my advice when I say…

Boats

Fuck boats.
They’re unsubtle, overdone
as a metaphor.
Always held up for their
nobility, all while Caucasian sails
flap in the salty swirls of some zephyr
masquerading as inspiration,
aimless winds as navigation, feigning at a reliable route past
oblivious contemporaries. Such starry-eyed idealism
drawn from a mode of transportation more likely
to make you (sea)sick and stranded than
marked for greatness.
Barnacle-slick, ships just sit
in port, bobbing on a prayer and desperation,
waiting for the right crew to give its aching hull meaning.
No,

be a spaceship.
cloak yourself in steel and ignite
with the apocalyptic fire of determination and pure logic.
Incineration as motivation, every move calculated
and yet cosmically ambitious, a routine
you could set your solar system to as you glow
through an orrery of accomplishments.
Every planet passed is a milestone reached, every nebula blessed
with your glide, something you can look back on and say
“been there, charted that.”
The continents are well and spoken for,
but your own universe
awaits to be seen anew.

Be a submarine—
Flip the script and dive
beneath those waves you’d so shallowly just skim, otherwise.
Pile on the pressure and laugh, compacted,
glad to stare darkness in the face
instead of be blinded by naïve light.
Reach out with methodical claws and feel
between the cold, the crushed, the mistakes
God sweeps under a rug of blood and dust.
There is ambition in descension, the confidence of being able
to face the worst of the world and arise, however hesitantly,
to a sun all others take for granted.

Be a fleet
of fighter jets, greater than the sum of your parts
as you dart, multimillion-dollar throwing stars, off
the glint of midmorning fog and into the obstacle
which keeps you from freedom. Could be a dictator,
could be a deadline or one more Dorito.
Discipline is too much to prop up alone,
because the mind and soul hold court at every instant
and a coup is always one what-if and maybe-later away.
Have your own back. Be your own wingman.
Attack distraction and ask it to thank you.

Christ, be a unicycle.
Deceptively static, idiosyncratic
in you how appear calm and collected
yet ever eager to impress. Entertainment
by mere existence, in all the right ways
and means. Lean forward, move
by impulse alone, and store your momentum
with ease upon arrival.
Success can be humble yet colorful, and there’s nothing more important
than balance.

Just don’t be a boat.
Slow, laden with cargo long since loaded, sagging
ashen casks stacked for reasons forgotten and customers unknown.
Creaking, weakened with the memories of those who rode before
as you slog through the surf, scurvy tickling your teeth
and compass needle spinning like a blender’s blades.
Whatever vehicle you please—you just need
to be strong, not soluble.
Precise, not placid.
Opportunity comes to those who make it sweat
at the sight of engines, angles, angry gears
hyperventilating into an industrial blur, not leisurely dreams
of a vessel lit by candlelight and complaints.
It’s always a new day’s dawn somewhere,
and you don’t want to be caught
floating in the middle of everywhere.

“Quarter” [25th Birthday/2016 Reflection Poem]

quarter

Money on my mind in more ways than one.

Happy New Year! Can’t be any less unhappy than the last year, some would argue… though I already made my balanced stance on that the other day. In any case, while 2016 was pretty solid for me personally, ups and downs bundling into one are a fact of life. Nowhere did that arise more prominently than with me turning 25 years old: the big quarter-century! (DOB: 11/04/1991. Only 90s kids will remember this.)

With that in mind, I promptly set about slowly reflecting–not on the past itself, but on how I was handling what that past meant for who I am and where I’m going. I’d aimed to finish this by 12/31/16, but I realized it was more about my time than the time. And as the holiday season officially waned and the workweek peeked back around the bend, I had a feeling–for better or worse–I would realize some more to say in the fresh light of 2017.

I did. What didn’t change, though, was the new perspective I’m grateful to have honed over these past couple of years in particular. Life is full of regret and want and uncertainty, sure… but we’re only human. And other humans can be here to help.

It’s making myself remember that last part–and what it means to stay confident in the face of time itself–that I hoped to capture here.

 

Quarter

1/16

One down,

three to grow.

 

A hoarder, I feel—

of lessons, stressors, and misadventures

unfit for mixed company.

Because the past is a dream come false:

Every day, we may as well be born anew,

and each second we live becomes another figment

in our children’s past.

 

So please, go easy.

This is my first time getting old,

and so I can’t help feeling like success

has an expiration date, and my hour to sour

is just around the cardboard bend.

You never know what’s the window

to when you’ll win, though.

I’d peer through, but it’s so hard to see

everything again;

to punch out the 2D screen of my memories incarnate

and beckon forth new avenues of inspiration from under the dust—

turn maybes to musts,

just decide instead of deify

my ambitions.

 

When I went home, my fear wasn’t that I didn’t belong there anymore,

it’s that I did.

And yet the posters stayed up,

pictures lingered in a padded hard drive,

and adding any new detail felt like fruitless betrayal:

The end of the world as we show it,

coming to terms with the fact that life is linear

but living hits every dimension.

I made the world

around me a story, immutable

after an arbitrary absence, as if

the repositioning of a picture, a sticker lifted, was going George Lucas—

a match dropped, to let scorch my origins for revisionist history.

 

Now, is writing the symptom or the cure?

Because I ask only that my fantasies be others’;

I want the worlds in my head not to wither,

whether they’re worth it or not—

a Wikipedia page people update, debate over

and over;

I need what I thought I was to survive

who nobody knows I am yet.

I may not be immortal, but

maybe I can be

part of forever.

 

Though, not all is lost.

I’ve improved, to be sure.

I don’t fetishize photocopies,

imprinting stencils of the hundred-and-one that got away

onto every –elle until I’m unable to feel

anything but myself.

I can’t carry a tune, but I won’t keep dragging ones behind me, either

(the kind of songs you don’t listen to

so much as use).

I see there’s a difference between what we want to hear

and what we want to know.

The perpetual emotion machine slows at last,

and I anticipate The Next:

What scents will I associate with where?

What tastes, textures, relevant where never before?

What beautiful threat will I one day want

to hide from?

Even pain can be promising if it’s a change of pace.

 

Until then, dressed to compress

my passions and predilections into the offtime

I can find, in this Art Deco ghetto—

I bide.

As soon as I wake, I check my phone

to see what’s broken

in the world.

As soon as I clock in, I’m already gone.

It’s not resignation if you never sign on.

 

1/8

In second grade,

when change meant nothing

and cheering was a bodily function,

I built a Lego spaceship:

A jagged prism of wings and plastic.

I thought it was so great, I didn’t want anyone

to take it, or break it.

So I secreted it, beneath a craft-supplies cabinet,

and went about my play.

 

I wonder, sometimes, back to it;

whenever I’m taking stock of what matters, what I’ve made.

Is it still there?

Against all odds, it’s not,

but I need that faith,

that privilege of infinity childhood provided.

That I can look back, kneel on primary tiles

in my designer slacks, and extract imagination.

Please don’t let it be just dust and rubber bands.

I’m made for more

than a pithy obituary in the local paper.

This won’t be how I go, much less how I come

to be remembered.

 

3/16

I sleepwalked, is all,

more than just after heavy dinners and big tests.

I didn’t realize it was on me to know this place

I got plopped into—not just putter through

like a Disney dark ride, every day-glo whoa

and manufactured satisfaction.

I thought it made me stable, but perhaps I can’t be any more

than the next schlub with a dream.

I just pray I’m not too late

 

to not just ask questions

but listen to the answers.

Where are my ancestors from?

What were the Fifties like?

Where did you buy that painting in the piano room,

the one that looks like Venice is burning

upon earth’s edge?

And so on, and on and on.

 

I only hope, in always pressing forward,

I didn’t become the caricature of cowardly indifference

in which I painted my past loves.

A tiny tombstone, an emoji-free text,

an oath to be taken between beats of an atrophying heart:

My world is dying, and I need someone alive

to smile when I wonder out loud.

Why won’t what passes for my soul suffice?

 

1/4

So take my hand—callous, callused,

knuckles busted from brick-wall punches

that were only mostly accidents.

Sell me on this life, on change

in the face of bills and sense.

 

I’m ready to give instead of take.

I’m ready to understand.

And to learn what to do

 

if that’s still not enough.

The Weekly Poem: “ISYMFS”

This is a poem ragging on someone I used to be.

Lifting Music

ISYMFS

Self-pity is exhausting.

Setting up. Dressing down.

Hitting the bench and feeling the burn

of bridges and bones,

red-browed, tearing up.

 

No shuffle mode. Workout routine is key.

Purposeful discontent.

Warm-up: five reps of Radiohead,

creeping through the fake plastic trees.

But we’re just getting started.

 

Ed Sheeran works the chest,

an Iron-Man core of sweat as you power through

the half-hics, clicks of exes’ Facebooks

and photo albums unmodified for years.

Upper back: Motion City Soundtrack,

shrugging at exaggerated inadequacy.

Rack it. Congrats.

Selective rejection sets a beat

to push through pain.

 

Take a break in-between exercises

and stare down the ceiling.

Plead and need and

listen enough, and Achievement Unlocked:

Everything You Deserve.

(At least, that’s the plan.)

 

Legs day takes determination,

bipolar but still the same bar.

Brow furrowed, striding uphill, across town,

head light from wistful intents and retroactive rebellion.

Make it a day to remember—

keep your hopes up high and your head down low.

 

Arms are Snow Patrol:

Balled fists at kisses missed

and arm tensed, “V” for vowing

it’ll never be as good as it was back then.

Crunches: hunching over the PC,

a knuckle-gut feeling as you surveil

the blips and tickers, traffic-like,

for a flirty PM or Verified retweet

suggesting there’s still a chance.

It takes a lot of activity

to be inactive.

 

And Coldplay? Creatine, the chaser

to an evening well-undone.

Don’t forget to stretch

with some neutral Top 40 tune.

It’s okay to go tired to bed,

just not breathless.

 

 

 

 

But, you know what?

 

The gains never come

and the wait never lightens.

Personal trainers are costly,

and spotters hard to come by.

 

So, I’m thinking,

if you try to raise your spirits and it breaks your back,

take some plates off already.

It’s less muscles to smile than frown,

goes the cliché, so hey—

why strain something?

 

Yeah, things not working out is a workout,

but it doesn’t have to be a burnout.

Motivation goes both ways, and so it’s high time

you scaled back—slowed up—

eased down the dumb bells

and said “what the hell,”

 

It’s still your set,

and I know you can lift less.